Updated: Jul 21
So we got to the part where I was about to spend a mini fortune on a new road bike… If you’ve not read Part 1 click that link and catch up!
Let’s take a little detour here though. I had done one road ride prior to getting my road bike. My cousins Clare and Carl were cyclists and on a trip to North Wales to visit some family they were kind enough to take me out for a spin. I borrowed one of Carl’s bikes and some of his cycling gear – in fact I borrowed everything apart from trainers. I think we did about 40 miles and I loved every minute of it. It was tough though, my legs knew all about it the next day. I did some digging and found these photos from summer 2016!
Good Memories from 2016
A few years later I went on to by my hardtail mountain bike from Clare’s husband Jon. He had treated himself to a new one so was selling his Whyte 805. It doesn’t get used as much as it should but when I visit them, or they visit me, we always go on the mountain bikes and we always have a great time. I forget how much fun it is to throw yourself down a muddy, rocky, tree root covered hill on two wheels. Unless you fall off of course…
The Hardtail MTB – Pretty sure it’s indestructible…
…as for me – not so indestructible! Cheeky hospital visit.
Let’s get back to this bike upgrade though. I had window shopped for a while. When I say ‘window shopped’ I of course mean the 21st century version – looked online, at various brands and types of bike. I didn’t want an all out climbing bike nor did I want an all out aero road bike. So when Trek released their new Emonda series with a new frame that fit right in the middle of ‘climber’ and ‘aero’ it became a fairly easy decision. I live in an area that has plenty of ups and downs with the occasional flat bit of road. This would be perfect!
I got a bit of a deal in the price but I’m keeping the details of that all to myself. This allowed me to get a model a couple of steps up from what I thought I could now I was stretching my budget out. I went for the Trek Emonda SLR 7. You may have seen pictures of it in previous posts, or my Instagram, but have another one anyway.
Worth Every Penny!
The shop I purchased it from did a full bike fit for me. I would definitely recommend having a bike fit if you’re treating yourself to a new bike. It made the Emonda a very comfortable place to be even after many hours in the saddle. Sure you can watch a YouTube video and have a go yourself but these people really know their stuff these days. Trust them to get it right for you. After all, what’s an extra few pennies when you’re spending all that cash anyway!
The first ride out was with Carl and my second cousin Alfie. I felt like I was flying! Just like I had hoped – all that hard work on my Cube Attain with Mr P had put a bit of strength in the legs and this carbon framed demon was now letting me push on at average speeds I’d never got close to before. It was a great feeling, worth every penny. The Di2 gears were a dream, the stiff frame let me get all the power out, and it was comfortable. The miles flew by and my cheeks hurt from grinning ear to ear for so long.
The next year and half were pretty heavy on the cycling front. I was out whenever I had the chance, whether that was alone or with Mr P. I loved it. I was getting stronger and faster and I was building a nice little selection of Strava KOM’s that weren’t just sprints. I had always had a decent sprint on me but now I was going uphill quicker as well. However, don’t be fooled. This didn’t come easily, it was due to the hard work and hours I was putting in. After all:
“Cycling never gets easier, you just get faster.”
A lot of this hard work wasn’t even on the road. It was on the virtual roads of Watopia. This is the name of the world in Zwift – an indoor cycling program. I had gone all in and purchased a Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer and my Cube Attain was now sitting permanently on the Wahoo’s direct drive system. Early mornings, after work training sessions, vomit inducing intervals.
This was getting pretty serious. It was working though. My power numbers increased along with my endurance, I learned to enjoy the hard work and that feeling of pushing a little further than I thought I could. When I took this fitness and attitude to the road I saw some fairly big leaps in my times.
I tried to keep training but there was a baby in the way!
Then it happened. Baby Arthur was on the way and we (my wife and I) had things to do. Lots of things. All of a sudden this dedication and commitment to my cycling had to take a back seat for the first time. It’s no secret that I struggled to adapt to the new way of life. The lack of free time to train or even just ride my bike hit me quite hard and as selfish as that sounds it was true. However, even I could see why it had to be done and as much as I missed training and putting in the hours on the bike I was also happy to be at home and see Arthur growing up and learning new things. Family did come first and I was only going to have the opportunity to see Arthur grow up once.
The change did give me an excuse to go bike shopping again though. Having convinced my wife that we should get rid of one of our cars to save some money I would then need a new bike to commute to and from work on. Eyes always off in the distance that this would be the bike I could use as my bikepacking bike. I’m not as stupid as I look you know! My budget wasn’t anywhere near as big as my road bike budget, especially as we now had a small human to feed, clothe, and look after. I headed over to Gumtree – a website where people sell second hand items. It took me a few weeks of searching but then I found my ‘All Rounder’ (click here for my bike review article). It was for sale at a decent price and using my spectacular conversational skills I managed to get the price down a little bit more. Now to get it home, clean it up, give it a thorough once over to make sure it was all in order, and I was good to go! I’ve never looked back.
My ‘All Rounder’
Ultimately having Arthur is what got me into bikepacking so it’s definitely not a sob story when it comes to having to ease up on my road cycling / fitness goals. If i couldn’t train to be the meanest, most powerful, KOM stealing machine in my local area then I needed to do something else. Something I would enjoy just as much. The fact I’m sitting at my dining room table writing this blog is testament to how much I enjoy it.
So although I’ve written a two part article about how I got into cycling, and it feels a bit strange to say this, I also feel like I’m just getting started all over again. Once you manage to wrap your head around that last sentence I think that it makes total sense and it does so because that is one of the main joys of riding bikes. There are so many disciplines, so many types of bike, and so many uses that if you are brave enough to branch off into a new area you can discover that love of pedalling all over again.
A lot of the skills are transferable but there will always be slight differences between the disciplines and this is what makes it so much fun. You could be the best hill climber in the world but your functional threshold power isn’t going to directly influence your ability to throw a mountain bike down a hillside and vice versa for the mountain biker who jumps on a road bike and decides to time trial his way up Alpe D’Huez.
Riding bikes will never get old for exactly this reason. I wish there hadn’t been such a huge gap between my two cycling lives but all I can do is make the most of it now. I plan to do exactly that and of course I will bore you all with my articles and stories about what I’ve been up to!
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